How to deal with these 4 types of changes at work

From getting a promotion to working with a new boss.

How to deal with these 4 types of changes at work
[Photo: Amy Shamblen/Unsplash]

When it comes to your career (or life, really) very few things are certain. There is one thing you can count on for sure though. Throughout your professional life, you’ll continue to encounter change, big or small, positive and negative, voluntary and involuntary.


When you experience these changes–you have two choices. You can either actively resist it, or you can accept it and figure out what you can learn from, and how to, leverage the situation. In most cases, the latter is usually the smart option. As Jennifer Harvey Berger previously wrote for Fast Company, in a world that’s only going to become more complex, “shifting your mindset is the only way to not only cope but also make the journey more fun and successful.”

Here are five of the most common changes you can expect to see at work, and how to deal with it so you can continue to thrive in the workplace.

Getting a promotion

Congratulations! After over-delivering on project after project, and exceeding all your goals that you set with your manager when you started your job, your employer is finally rewarding you with a change in title and an increase in compensation. You’re exhilarated, but you’re also a little confused. What do you do now?

First off, start with figuring out what you will no longer take on, time coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders wrote in a previous Fast Company article. Assuming that your promotion comes with more responsibilities, you will probably need to learn how to master your new tasks, and you won’t be able to do that efficiently if you have to do that on top of your old job. This requires trusting other people, which can be difficult if you have controlling tendencies. But as Saunders pointed out, the higher you move up, the more you have to depend on others. So start to learn to let go of your micro-managing tendencies, and trust that you’re not the only one who knows how to do everything.

It might be counterintuitive to prioritize personal well-being like sleep and exercise. But as Saunders noted, when you are required to perform at a high level, you need to be stricter about making these things a priority. After all, they have a major impact on your productivity. That’s not something you can compromise when you’re required to perform at the next level, Saunders said.


Related: Should you ever accept a promotion without a raise? 

Company restructuring

Very few things make employees as anxious as a company reorganization. Regardless of whether or not you survive the re-org, you’re sure to face some big changes. The first step, whatever the outcome, is to acknowledge what you went through, Neil Lewis, co-founder of Working Transitions, told Gwen Moran in a 2017 Fast Company article. If you survived the re-org and felt “survivor guilt,” give yourself permission to feel them. Then slowly rebuild your confidence by assessing what kind of opportunities you can take on to grow, and whether there are any gaps in your skills that you can fill. Lewis also urged that you shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out to your colleagues who have left the organization. After all, they’re a crucial part of your professional network.

If the re-org results in a layoff, The Muse’s Jenni Maier recommends that as soon as you’ve had time to process the news, let your network know you’re looking. When Maier was laid off from her role, she desperately wanted to keep it quiet, but because she was unhappy with (and wanted to change) her situation, she decided to be open about the fact that she was back in the job market. She wrote, “The majority of the interviews I went on after being laid off came from friends-of-friend leads. Leads I never got before I lost my job because no one knew I wanted them. And the position I ended up getting at The Muse? That “in” came from a former manager’s friend.”

Related: Take these steps to boost morale after layoffs

Getting a new boss

Your happiness and success in your job has a lot to do with the relationship that you have with your boss. You might spend a long time building this relationship, but people move on, and one day, they might leave. You find yourself reporting to someone new, and you want to establish their trust and respect, quickly.


How do you do it in a way that doesn’t come off as bragging? As Gwen Moran previously wrote in Fast Company, the first step you should take is to build in some “networking” time with your boss–whether it’s coffee, or scheduling some time in a calendar for focused discussion. This way, you can start to learn their goals, working styles and any new ideas they might have, and work to amend your priorities where appropriate. Be proactive in terms of identifying where they might need help–that’s an easy way for you to secure some quick wins to help them shine, which builds goodwill quickly.

A change in company culture and processes

Sometimes what the company looks like when you joined looks nothing like the company you’re still working at 2 years later. This especially common in a startup–which tends to start without structures and systems in place. As the company scales, those things become necessary, and sometimes, it can change the company culture, entrepreneur Matt Barba previously wrote for Fast Company.

The first step is acknowledging that structure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and simply accept the fact that it comes with company growth. If you feel like there are some cultures that the company used to have that you want to reinstate–there are ways you can do that without needing approvals from the higher-ups. As SYPartners’ principal Joshua-Michéle Ross said at the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival, you can create deep transformations with tiny steps. He went on to say that one of the ways to do this is to create “rituals that solve a problem.” In the case of Airbnb, for example, the home-sharing company found itself with far too many internal meeting as the company grew. Their solution? they started filming the meetings and editing them into digestible content–which solved a problem and got rid of unnecessary bureaucracy.

Your brain might be averse to change, but with time and a shift in perspective, you can learn to accept it. And if you train yourself to be comfortable with uncertainty, you might just see opportunities as a result of those changes that you might not have had otherwise.

About the author

Anisa is a freelance writer and editor who covers the intersection of work and life, personal development, money, and entrepreneurship. Previously, she was the assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section and the co-host of Secrets Of The Most Productive people podcast.